Training camp is now upon us, in case you have failed to take notice. The Pittsburgh Steelers reported to Latrobe on July 28, and began practicing the following day in preparation for their first preseason game on August 12, and eventually, for the 2016 regular season in April.
Every NFL season is like an investigation of sorts, with the offseason and preseason serving as the fact-finding portion, gathering the questions that are most prudent to ask in order to understand the story of the team in the current season. And it is in training camp that we really begin to start finding the answers to those questions.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in training camp and the preseason looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they head into a regular season in which they are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: When will Ladarius Green be ready, and how will he look?
When the Steelers were dealt the blow of longtime tight end Heath Miller’s retirement, they coped with the signing of free agent Ladarius Green, who was happy to oblige their grieving process to the tune of a four-year contract worth $20 million.
That is an awful lot of money—admittedly, with just under a quarter of it guaranteed as a signing bonus—for a player who has yet to even take the practice field, let alone catch a pass, or throw a block, or really do anything but talk to his quarterback and run off to the side by himself.
Green, of course, is the fifth-year former Charger who spent the first four years of his career playing behind a future Hall of Famer at his position, and many believe that he can blossom into something in his own right if he were not constantly asked to play second fiddle. And perhaps he showed glimpses of that to start last year while said future Hall of Famer was suspended.
But part of that process of becoming something outside of somebody’s shadow, in a different environment, is in adapting to that new environment, and when speaking in football terms, it means being in sync with your new team, your teammates, your coaches, and your system. You can only get so much of that done without pads on.
Green underwent surgery on his ankle early in the offseason, a fact that was known to the Steelers, and they obviously felt comfortable enough to sign them. But I do wonder if they sincerely anticipated that his recovery would linger this far into training camp, and at this point, likely, into the preseason.
Whenever he does get onto the field, there will be a lot of work for him to get done when it comes to getting in sync in the passing game, of which he is expected to be an integral part. And it won’t hurt if he can show that he can throw a block or two either before he has to.